The title says it: I am a full-time employee working as an ordinary developer at a company settled in Sweden. I am working on a number of different projects within the company but spend 80+% of my time on one particular project.

This project is an agile project where we develop closely with the customer who is participating in it. Work is done more or less by acclamation, although we have a somewhat rough plan. However, I always enforce that all work done is tracked using Youtrack so that we can agree on estimates, do moderations and that the customer can verify work that we marked as fixed and all this works well. All the work is also based separate specifications that we or they draft in the first place, then agree on and derive features and tasks from it. So far so good.

Now however we're at a situation where the customer is a single person and therefore has to take the roles of the product owner as well as the project manager, as the customer only booked/pays for development time (they book a budget of hours and my company can "throw work" at this and since a couple of months it's only me). The problem is that the customer only knows what they want not how to achieve it. In other words, no customer has no appropriate technical background to be in the role of the product owner.

So the development process works in a way that the developers (mostly me) make suggestions on how to approach new features technically and the customer agrees so that we can move forward. The customer, due to their lack of technical knowledge, virtually cannot disagree mostly. Sometimes they have their own ideas that we discuss but the work that we start is always agreed on and all arguments and concerns have been voiced; all future implications (complexity, needed time etc.) were also voiced.

So recently we finished integrating a huge component into the project, according to the tasks. However, this component is highly complex and does not align with their former component as they had envisioned. The customer even called it a nightmare, as it costed already much more time than planned and during our daily scrum I hinted that, should we continue the integration, it will cost much more time and increase the complexity even further.

Now to get to the point of my question: Do I as a developer in my current position have any additional legal liabilities should this project fail or should the customer claim for recourse? With additional I mean other liabilities that are not covered through the company I am working for. I should note that I made the CEO already aware of this project and that it might back-fire. We also agreed that there has been at least one other red flag regarding this project.

What should I do?

  • This sounds like a good question for Programmers.SE or maybe Workplace.SE; could you clarify the legal question (or if you think one of the other communities could answer better, flag to request migration?) Typically, as long as you're an employee generally conforming to company policies it's the company that would be legally liable for issues. Your keeping active communication with management about project status is a good idea, keep that up.
    – WBT
    Jul 15, 2016 at 13:30
  • I already moved this question from Programmers.SE as they said it would be better here to ask ;) I'm afraid on Workplace.SE they would recommend moving it to here or Programmers. So, just in general, is it typical for the SE-sites that the question is moved around if it overlaps two or more sites? What is the best approach to getting valuable answers then?
    – user654123
    Jul 15, 2016 at 16:46
  • Focusing the question on aspects that fit the site. Also, questions can be on topic on multiple SE sites; picking one in part depends on which community of experts you want to tap into.
    – WBT
    Jul 15, 2016 at 21:07

1 Answer 1


Focusing exclusively on the legal aspects here, is the customer's contract with your company, or with you? If all your interactions with the customer have been as a representative of your employer, and the customer's contract is with the employer, the employer is the one legally responsible.

The most likely negative effects on you personally are poor performance reviews and lesser chance at promotion/advancement/raises within your company, but even those might not necessarily happen as long as you keep good communication with your superiors and do your best to manage a challenging situation. If you demonstrate good leadership and management skills on a difficult project, that might be a more convincing demonstration of your capacities even if the project eventually fails.

What should I do?

  • Document your interactions with the customer well, as / just after those interactions happen.
  • Do your best on the project.
  • Keep open and honest lines of communication with your superiors about what's happening.
  • Be glad you're working on this as an employee of a larger company, and not as a freelancer.
  • That clarifies it a lot already, thank you for that summary. I guess I will continue normally then; documenting, well-performing, honest and open. And I am indeed glad this is not my own project.
    – user654123
    Jul 16, 2016 at 14:38

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